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Reddit's Moral Low Ground (raganwald.posterous.com)
99 points by raganwald on Oct 18, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 186 comments



No.

Reddit is about reflecting their audience's taste or lack thereof, not condoning nor condemning it. Reddit works precisely because they maintain some sort of "net neutrality" ethics, refusing any editorial meddling. Banning a distasteful content provider would break that neutrality; but hiring him would break it just as much.

If there's a will, among Reddit's users, to help Brutsch find a new job, he'll get it. And I'd bet it will happen, if only because some companies would value the PR outcome of such a move. But that's for the community to decide, not for the infrastructure guys at Reddit inc.

Reddit has neither a high nor a low moral ground on this; Reddit is and should remain amoral. That's where the Nike comparison completely falls apart.


> Reddit is and should remain amoral

You realize that this is impossible, right? Reddit cannot be amoral, it makes moral decisions all over the place.

Why did they ban the jailbait subreddit? They made a moral decision to ban it. Why don't they allow doxing people? They made a moral decision to ban it. They make many other moral decisions in the breach; it's just easier to see their decisions when you look at what they don't allow rather than what they do.

Simply hosting and allowing /r/creepshots to exist is a moral decision. Reddit provides them support, legitimacy, a platform, and server space by allowing them to use reddit. This is a moral decision.

You don't get to provide material support for a site and at the same time say "we're not responsible for it". You are, to some extent, responsible, and to deny that is immoral.


Absolutely. And I think it’s worth noting that by allowing creepshots, but banning doxxing those who post creepshots, Reddit is expressing the moral preference that it’s okay to harass women and photograph them in compromising positions, but it’s not okay to call someone out on that.

I find that position repugnant, and I’m sickened people keep talking about this situation as if it’s Michael Brutsch who’s the victim here.

Adrian Chen on Twitter: “Why I felt OK outing Violentacrez: Anonymity should be valued mainly to the extent it helps protect powerless from powerful. VA wasn't that.” (https://twitter.com/AdrianChen/status/258703898695593984)


> "Reddit is expressing the moral preference that it’s okay to harass women and photograph them in compromising positions"

Oh come on, that's bull. This is the exact same line of reasoning as "if you're not with us you're against us" - not being against something does not indicate that one is for something, or even condoning of something.

Reddit's position against doxxing means Reddit is against doxxing - any further extrapolations are your own. Reddit's stance on doxxing may result in women being harassed and photographed in compromising situations, but that in no way means that, quote, "Reddit is expressing the moral preference that it’s okay to harass women and photograph them in compromising positions".

That is a patent falsehood, and I find your entire post deeply offensive. This is the same exact argument right-wing politicians have used in the past to take us to war.

By your logic, the burger you had for lunch last week expresses your moral preference for factory farming practices and the grave environment impact of meat consumption. Guilt by association much?


You quoted only part of the sentence. “...but it's not okay to call someone out on that.”

Reddit has decided to allow one form of legal(?) content (invasive, sexually exploitative photos) but disallow another (publicizing the name of people who post such photos). By doing so, they are explicitly privileging the former over the latter and that is a moral preference.

The Reddit community is all in favor of free speech when women are being harassed, but opposes free speech when the name of a harasser is being published.

In other words, this is not about free speech at all.


That isn't the part of the post that's offensive, and therefore wasn't the part I quoted.

I do not take issue with your line of argument re: free speech, though I disagree with it.

I do take strong issue with your baseless ad hominem attack against every person who works for Reddit. Their actions (or rather, lack thereof) is not an "expression of moral preference" for the harassment of women.

That portion of your post was deliberately intellectually dishonest to the highest and most vindictive degree.


It's not terribly surprising though. This isn't actually the first time I've come across a bunch of left-wingers using the exact same bullshit arguments as the right wing this week; ran across the incident described in http://www.popehat.com/2012/10/09/frankly-i-dont-care-how-du... a few days ago which is about typical.


I said nothing about “every person who works for Reddit”. Wikipedia says Reddit has 20 employees. I would sure hope that at least one of those employees doesn’t hold harassers as more worthy of privacy and protection than their targets. But that is the apparent position of the company as a whole based on the company’s actions.

Note that if you take my “okay/not okay” sentence that you half-quoted, and substitute “allowed on Reddit/not allowed on Reddit”, it is literally fact. I do not agree that going from “allowed on Reddit” to “okay” is dishonest. The company is aware of both the harassment and the doxxing, and they have chosen to allow the former but ban the latter, and having done so, they cannot claim neutrality.


> "But that is the apparent position of the company as a whole based on the company’s actions."

You keep saying that, I don't think "apparently positions" means what you think it means.

The position of the company is simply: "Reddit does not allow doxxing" - like I said before, any extrapolations on Reddit's intent is your own. Reddit's failure to prevent creepshots content does NOT

IT DOES NOT (repeated because you apparently don't get it) imply a "moral preference that it's okay to harass women".

This is no different than someone turning a blind eye to bullying. You can imply a certain lack of moral fortitude, or even argue that turning a blind eye enables bullies, but to go from that to "this implies you have a moral preference for bullies" is just complete nonsense.

I don't have a problem with the above arguments - the enabler and the lack of moral fiber, heck, I agree with that stance in many ways. What I do have a problem with is your wild extrapolations and presenting them as fact. Do you have any evidence that Reddit has an expressed "moral preference for the harassment of women"?!

This is ad hominem and smearing at its worst.

> "they cannot claim neutrality."

No, perhaps they can't. But you're shifting the topic again. You came out with an ad hominem appeal to emotion argument that was as completely unsubstantiated and inferred as it is inflammatory - that is what I'm challenging you on. You can't go around claiming "company X has an expressed moral preference for sexual harassment" with your sole reasoning being "they fail to stop it from happening".

You are sensationalizing and arguing from an incredibly disingenuous position.


Your reasoning is nonsense. The doxxing rule is designed to prevent harassment of female and other Reddit users. Reddit.com draws its line at onsite vs offsite, not female vs not female.


This isn't quite the case. Reddit has been presented with situations that called for a response: do we take action or not? In the case of banning /r/jailbait and doxxing, Reddit decided to take a stance against those things. When it comes to enabling communities whose primary purpose is harassment, Reddit has decided to allow those things.

> Reddit's position against doxxing means Reddit is against doxxing - any further extrapolations are your own. Reddit's stance on doxxing may result in women being harassed and photographed in compromising situations, but that in no way means that, quote, "Reddit is expressing the moral preference that it’s okay to harass women and photograph them in compromising positions".

Reddit (as a company) has taken a position that enables harassment of women instead of taking the right action to police their own site from content in the same league as doxxing. A stance against doxxing followed up by actions that excuse the very things that lead to doxxing in the first place is a symptom of a cover your ass mentality that shows Reddit staff could give a shit less about actually cleaning up the site they run.


> "Reddit (as a company) has taken a position that enables harassment of women"

That is fair, but where is the link between that and "expresses a moral preference" for the harassment of women?

You can say (and it would be reasonably fair) that Reddit's actions (or lack thereof) enables deplorable behavior - but that's long, long, long, LONG way from condoning or preferring it.

I don't take issue with the fact that people find Reddit's stance problematic. I do take issue when people go off the rails and essentially resort to ad hominem character attacks and smearing.


I think this comes back to actions speaking louder than words. It doesn't matter if Reddit says nothing or even makes a statement against harassment, but if what they are doing enables it, then we can't really say that their words even mean anything. I would say its not really about expressing a preference or not, but rather about actually taking actions that create the kind of community you want to run on your site.


Your burger tangent is a strange one because yes, by eating that burger you're providing direct support to the meat industry, further enabling their factory farming practices. When you buy factory farmed meat you're specifically expressing your moral preference for cheap, tasty meat over the environmental and moral costs of its preparation. You can't dissociate the two.


>By your logic, the burger you had for lunch last week expresses your moral preference for factory farming practices and the grave environment impact of meat consumption.

A lot of people do believe that though, sadly "with us or against us" is really really common.


> Anonymity should be valued mainly to the extent it helps protect powerless from powerful.

What about anonymity should be valued, period, end of story? Otherwise "some are more equal than others"...


The powerful are not as equal as the powerless. That should not be ignored.


You can be amoral, by not basing your actions on moral considerations. That's what's expected of judges, cops etc.: they (ought to only) consider whether you broke the law, not whether you're a good person.

Reddit banned jailbait because it was bound to host a lot of illegal material, not because it was disgusting.

> You don't get to provide material support for a site and at the same time say "we're not responsible for it".

I understand their position as "we materially support everything that interest some people and doesn't break the law, irrespective of our personal opinion about it". It means sometimes supporting stuff they might sometimes find personally appalling, just as a lawyer sometimes has to try and get out of jail a person he personally despises.

Besides, supporting freedom of speech forces to support questionable expressions: speeches which don't offend anyone don't need to be protected.


> I understand their position as "we materially support everything that interest some people and doesn't break the law, irrespective of our personal opinion about it"

That is a morality! That's a moral decision.

What I'm disagreeing with is the notion you proposed that reddit could be "amoral". Every decision you make has a moral component; keeping /r/creepshots alive is one of them.


> That is a morality! That's a moral decision.

I understand it to be more of an economic/legal decision, not moral. Laws are crafted after morals, but following the law does not make you morally sound. It only allows you to maintain your freedom by avoiding prosecution.

> Every decision you make has a moral component;

What we're discussing here is the moral motivation (or lack of it) of Reddit. Any moral implications it has for the population are irrelevant.


Not every decision has a moral component. Deciding whether to have cucumbers in my salad today at lunch does not have a moral components (its mostly about how fresh they look that day.)

Here, I see how you could say they made a moral decision. But in this case they made one moral decision of essentially "We allow all legal speech here". After they made that call, there is no further moral decision in keeping any particular, (legal) thread alive.

Had they decided "We will exercise some editorial discretion beyond just what is needed to comply with the law" then every single thread becomes a moral decision.

If you want to be precise, reddit has made the single moral decision that they will permit (legal) free-speech and beyond that point they have chosen to be amoral.


> Not every decision has a moral component

Fair, I overreached there.

> reddit has made the single moral decision that they will permit (legal) free-speech

except for doxing, of course. Except for hate speech. Except for spam. Except for gawker (whoops, no that was by accident). Except for...

> reddit has made the single moral decision that they will permit (legal) free-speech and beyond that point they have chosen to be amoral

1) As I stated above, that falls apart when you look at it closely. Reddit indeed tries to minimally muck around with content, but it certainly does do so.

2) You can't substitute legality for morality and call it amorality; all you can do is align your morality with the law if you choose to do so.

Imagine an alternate universe where the internet existed during Jim Crow, and Georgia law required it to have black and white websites. According to the "law supersedes morality" theory, they could morally segregate white and black users in Georgia.

Obviously that's a ludicrous scenario for many reasons, but I think Jim Crow laws are an excellent illustration of the divergence of morality and legality. Choosing to follow the law is a moral decision, and you can't wish that away.


I agree with your basic point, but for clarity we as a society hand a fair bit of discretion to cops and even more to prosecutors and judges. In at least some instances we want them to make moral judgements, so long as thos moral judgements are within and guided by the law.

This is especially true in sentencing. For a minor traffic violation, a cop has discretion to say "You were speeding, but you have a totally clean record and it wasn't much, this time you get a warning." Most people want them to be able to do that and it is a mostly moral judgement. A prosecutor can say, "You met all the technical definitions of the crime, but you had extenuating circumstances. I decline to prosecute." Sometimes that is based on either law (the extenuating circumstance, like self defense, is explicitly recognized), or the evidence (its a close call whether they could win and they have "bigger fish to fry"), but sometimes its a straight moral call. Often we want them to be able to make that moral call.

With judges it depends on the jurisdiction, but they often have enormous discretion once it comes to sentencing. In many jurisdictions, the legislature hands out some guidelines, but just guidelines. The same crime might get many years in prison or probation, depending on the judge's moral decision about whether that instance of the crime was heinous or more excusable and whether the judge thinks that person is a career criminal or someone who gave into temptation once.

They must follow the law, but within the law we as a society explicitly hand out a lot of discretion at different points and we expect part of that discretion to be used to make moral calls within the framework of the law.


I'd call those legal decisions rather than moral ones. Reddit banned those subreddits because they were worried about their liability exposure, not any moral issue.


>Reddit works precisely because they maintain some sort of "net neutrality" ethics, refusing any editorial meddling. Banning a distasteful content provider would break that neutrality; but hiring him would break it just as much.

This is incorrect. They have banned 'distasteful content' and they have banned posts due to pressure from advertisers. Reddit is behaving extremely hypocritical and their PR on this subject is just nonsense. People shouldn't post on subjects on which they don't even have a basic understanding. I don't mean to sound rude, but this post is getting the most votes as of this writing and it's just flat out wrong.


They have banned content which was nearly impossible to properly moderate and could have, from a legal perspective, become a very big problem.


This was for legal matters, not for distastefulness. The same obligations fall on network operators, and wouldn't be cancelled by any net neutrality law.


Yes, we agree. I don't think anyone else would have looked at the facts and come to a different decision than what reddit did, and I'm sure they did not make the decision easily.


Actually, this is untrue. The r/jailbait drama blew up when someone solicited underage pornography there, but at the end of the day it was banned for "threatening the structural integrity of reddit," ie the fallout from the Anderson Cooper story. Legality had little to do with it, just like you see with the ban on dox; it was banned for making the site look bad.


>they have banned posts due to pressure from advertisers

Citation please.


http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/9clji/where_did_m...

I should add that this is not direct pressure from their advertisers, but from their parent company, Condé Nast. I'm sure that Sears is and advertiser for at least some Condé Nast properties, so it's effectively the same, though with an extra level of indirection.


Some context would be useful here. The post was in relation to a URL exploit on a Sears site, and I can see the justification for a company taking issue with a partner of theirs posting how to exploit their site.

This isn't just "Advertiser gets a post banned they don't like", this is "Advertiser asks partner to pull down an exploit". Framing it as the former makes it sound like a capricious, moralizing decision.


I keep seeing you and other Reddit apologists throwing the word "distasteful" around. Sorry but "distasteful" isn't going to whitewash Reddit and Redditors any better than "horseplay" did Jerry Sandusky.

Stalking is not merely "distasteful":

- But the girls don't know!

- Bullshit. We know. Every time.

- But we took these photos in public!

- Bullshit. You took the photos from down below or up above.

Taking upskirt photos of minors is not merely "distasteful":

- But these girls are too sexy to be minors!

- Bullshit. Did you ask for an ID?

- But we took these photos in public!

- Bullshit. Child porn is illegal everywhere.

Hosting said upskirts is not merely "distasteful":

- But we didn't know!

- Bullshit. You knew, and you profited.

- But we are protecting free speech!

- Bullshit. Rape- and pedophile-adjacent porn is not free speech.

Let's call a pig, a pig. We are talking about a forum whose sole purpose is to make and distribute pornographic photos of children and young women.

By the way, an almost identical set of arguments happened around Amazon's defense of its sale of a book titled "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-lover's Code of Conduct". Amazon defended the book with the usual "if we stop selling it, Freedom Of Speech will die", and Amazon apologists made arguments very similar to yours. A few weeks later, they voluntarily took down Wikileaks because "It is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that WikiLeaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren't putting innocent people in jeopardy."


This article is ludicrous.

The protection of freedom of speech is fundamental, and one that Reddit is standing by.

The usage of that freedom of speech is a personal responsibility. Reddit nor any other organization can be held responsible for the consequences of using that freedom of speech in ways that others may find objectionable or questionable.

Reddit the organization is entirely in the right here. To say otherwise would be to misplace responsibility and fundamentally change the idea of free speech that the US—and surely the internet—has enjoyed for many years.

The author of the article, however, sure thinks he's got some moral high groung alright. I implore him to get off his high horse.


There are a few things wrong with your line of thinking:

* Reddit is not the government, so yes, we cannot have them arrested. And no one wants them arrested- literally zero people. But yes, they can be held financially responsible and be made into the pariah of the civilized world.

* Even barring that, your freedom of speech only extends so far until it begins harming the safety of others. Creepshots, specifically, was showing easily identifiable women in compromising positions and actively encouraging that subreddit's community to create more of this kind of content. Without the knowledge of their victims, they trample over their right to a reasonable expectation of safety and privacy.

I've been a member of Reddit for 6 years- just 1 year shy of their entire existence. It's still, by far, my most visited site every day. My favorite subreddits all tend to be niche these days, like /r/ainbow, /r/python, and /r/kpop. Most of the 'defaults' I'm not even subscribed to, because of a way of thinking that honestly reeks of people who have never been under legitimate threat in their lives, yet feel entitled to expose others to it. Well, that and crappy reposts.

Once again: No one wants Reddit arrested. That's what the freedom of speech is about. However, the freedom of speech does not, by any measure, mean that you should not be exposed to the consequences of your speech. You should.


There is no "right to a reasonable expectation of safety and privacy," in public, though.


That's a pretty dramatic overstatement in the context of this discussion. There's no "reasonable expectation" of privacy in the sense of preventing people from seeing you and monitoring your publicly visible travels. That word "reasonable" is important. You do have a reasonable expectation that there won't be peephole cameras in dressing rooms and hidden mirrors on the floor everywhere you turn.

And safety is also a bit odd to bring up here. There certainly is a reasonable expectation of safety in public in the legal sense. In what situation is there ever a lack of the expectation of safety to such a degree that it could be used as a defense by someone harming you?


In the modern world, I think it's reasonable to ask whether monitoring of people's behaviour even in public is still acceptable.

If I followed you around and discreetly recorded everything I saw during a shopping trip and when you got home, there's a good chance that I could do all kinds of damaging things to you with the information I collected. I could be unpleasant (spoiling your kid's birthday surprise). I could be very unpleasant (spoiling your surprise proposal to your financee because I just watched you collect the ring). I could be downright criminal (identity theft, fraud, and the like).

I think many of us would consider that sort of "tailing someone" behaviour to be more than a little creepy, but it's important to understand there are good practical reasons for that instinctive negative reaction beyond just "I don't find it comfortable" (though the latter is important as well).

Modern technology allow us to do many wonderful things that we couldn't before, but also quite a few nasty things that we couldn't do before or that didn't have such serious consequences before. It's about time we stopped trying to apply privacy from 1912 to the world in 2012, and started asking why the principle of privacy is important and what it really means today.


That's a fair point, but I'm not sure where I'd draw the line. The worst consequences you cited -- identity theft, fraud, etc. -- are already illegal. We criminalize the act; not necessarily the surrounding things that made the act possible.

Spoiling my kid's birthday surprise might make you a dick, but I don't want it to make you a criminal. It's also hard to see a good way to enforce this kind of thing. As long as all a person is doing is visiting public places, then lacking a specific compelling reason (e.g., restraining orders issued by a judge), I'm not sure you should be able to prevent someone else from visiting those same public places.

These are definitely issues that are going to become more important as the amount of data we generate continues to grow. But right now, I think the balance is actually pretty good. The government probably has too many rights to collect information on you, but for private parties, I don't have a huge problem with things as they stand.


That's a fair point, but I'm not sure where I'd draw the line. The worst consequences you cited -- identity theft, fraud, etc. -- are already illegal.

The best I've come up with so far is that when it comes to prior restraint, you have to consider (a) whether there is an effective remedy to undo any damage after the fact, and (b) whether there is any legitimate reason to do whatever you're proposing to restrain, and if so, what the adverse consequences might be. Then it's a balance, and personally I think it's safest to bias against any form of prior restraint if it's not a clear case.

In this case, once a severe privacy invasion has taken place, often the consequences are permanent. Sure, your kid might have another birthday and still enjoy the new toy, but you'll probably never get another chance to propose in the way you've spent the last six months planning and see the look on your wife-to-be's face before she says yes. I would have no problem with severely punishing someone who thought it was OK to deliberately spoil that kind of special, once-in-a-lifetime moment. On a more objectively measurable level, you'll never get back the three months of your life that you'll probably spend chasing banks and fixing your credit records if someone steals your identity.

I'll note in passing that none of this is the really bad stuff, which is less likely from my example of just being followed around for an afternoon but all too possible in a world of ever-increasing surveillance and data mining. The really bad stuff is probably when your career and/or private life get destroyed by an untrue allegation that taints your reputation irreparably. No amount of retractions and apologies printed later is going to remove the cloud of having once been accused of privately being a little too friendly with children, or abusing your spouse, or botching a medical procedure that left a patient permanently disabled, or stealing your client's private records and selling them to the competition.

That's the "can the damage be undone" side of things, so what about the damage from restricting the other action?

When it comes to someone following someone else around and systematically recording their behaviour, I find it hard to see any legitimate reason for doing it at all, other than genuine security/law enforcement considerations, in which case the usual caveats about due process and independent oversight must apply.

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about merely being in the same places as someone else here. That could happen coincidentally, and clearly there is a severe negative consequence to trying to prevent one person moving freely just because another happened to go the same way, as well as it being completely unrealistic. I'm more concerned about the kind of active surveillance I mentioned, such as someone deliberately following you and recording their observations. Perhaps more realistically, I don't see any real difference in privacy terms between that scenario and the use of an automated surveillance system that allows a similar picture to be built later by data mining, whether that is from CCTV cameras and facial analysis around town, or a cell provider recording the location of your phone, or your ISP logging all your Internet activity, or Google/Facebook tracking your web browsing history via beacons, bugs and other dubious practices. If anything, the latter type of surveillance is worse, because at least you can see the guy following you around and peering over your shoulder or through your home window.

(In case anyone's wondering, the proposal-related example came to mind because a popular wedding venue near where I live recently burned down. Obviously if that was a deliberate act of arson then it was criminal anyway, and the loss of the buildings and revenue to the operators was severe, but the really heartbreaking thing reading those stories was the idea that what should have been the happiest day of some couples' lives was going to be ruined because there wouldn't be time to make other arrangements. When it comes to issues like privacy, it is often the personal, emotional consequences rather than some measurable financial or practical cost that are the most damaging, and I think it is regrettable that many legal systems seem to assign little if any weight to such harm.)


It's all relative, isn't it? Let's be honest, there are people who consider r/ainbow to be more objectionable than r/creepshots. It's sad but true.


I think there's a reasonably clear difference between a forum dedicated to sharing sexual content defined by the subject's lack of consent and pretty much any other forum discussing potentially "offensive" material.


And taking someone's picture is far less offensive than murder, which a large part of the population believes includes abortion. Should Reddit ban abortion resources?


I think that both of our horses share the same sire.

  Reddit nor any other organization can be held responsible
  for the consequences of using that freedom of speech in
  ways that others may find objectionable or questionable.
A reasonable position. Let me grant you that. So here's an oblique question, one that does not argue with your perfectly understandable feelings about Freedom of Speech. What's with this man being fired from his job for exercising his Freedom of Speech during his own personal time?

Obviously there's freedom of people to boycott his employer if they don't like them employing him, and his employer has freedom to fire him if they don't want to deal with any such consequences, but all that being said...

Isn't there something deeply disturbing about people holding his employer responsible for his freedom to speak when it's wholly unconnected with their business, but not holding Reddit accountable for his freedom to speak, when it's their business to allow him to speak?

Why aren't these two things the same?


It seems to me that dissenters in the internet age will ultimately need a new, expanded "freedom of speech".

I hold quite a few controversial opinions, and in the last year or two I increasingly feel unsafe when expressing them on the internet. I do not fear governments, but I do fear witch hunts, and I fear automatic indexing/flagging of my speech by corporations. The recent doxxing scandals are not helping my peace of mind, and neither do the firings of people who get "exposed".

The original version of "freedom of speech" only said that the government should not persecute people for speech. That was certainly a great idea, when the government was the only entity that could realistically persecute you. Today we additionally have huge corporations and online hiveminds that can and will punish you for what you say. Other "human rights" that have sprung up in the last century acknowledge the new reality, e.g. people get protected from discrimination by private companies, not just by the government. Freedom of speech is lagging behind: a company cannot fire you for being black, but can fire you for your online conversations outside of work.


You originally wrote:

> Freedom of speech is lagging behind: a company cannot fire you for being black, but can fire you for saying "vile" things online under a pseudonym.

You changed that, likely because you realized that companies have always fired people for saying "vile" things publicly outside of work. Which is why pseudonyms have always existed.

Nothing's changed about freedom of speech. It's just that it's not so easy to hide the vile things you say online as it was, say, 10 years ago.


> You changed that, likely because you realized that companies have always fired people for saying "vile" things publicly outside of work. Which is why pseudonyms have always existed.

Sometimes the definition of vile has meant, "Argued for democracy", or, "Came out as gay", or, "said my religion was false", or, "suggested reforming the government".

Freedom of speech must in many ways mean the freedom to be a despicable scuzz, because freedom means divergence. And divergence frequently (to the horror of the mainstream) includes divergence from morality.

I am profoundly impressed with the need for anonymity, pseudonymity, and free speech for all of us, because otherwise we are simply limiting truth telling, the capability for reform and improving our collective lot.


The protection of freedom of speech is fundamental, and one that Reddit is standing by.

Ah, but the crux is how you define "freedom of speech". After all, in the USA (AFAIK), it's legal to publish the personal details of a reddit user (which is exactly what gawker did here). And yet that is not allowed on reddit. Reddit have already decided "some things are legal, but we won't allow them here".

So you have to look at what sort of speech they protect (sexual photos of children, sexual photos of people without their consent) and what sort of speech they don't protect ("outing" people who take photos of people without their consent).


So you have to look at what sort of speech they protect (sexual photos of children, sexual photos of people without their consent) and what sort of speech they don't protect ("outing" people who take photos of people without their consent).

Did you read their justification for this?


So you have to look at what sort of speech they protect (sexual photos of children, sexual photos of people without their consent) and what sort of speech they don't protect ("outing" people who take photos of people without their consent).

"Outing" people leads directly to harassment. It's happened plenty of times in the past to make a fair assumption that it will happen in the future as well. This is the reality of the situation.

The reason you can't allow it at all is there is no good way to enforce that "outing" someone is appropriate or correct in any given instance or that the person being "outed" is the person attached to said Reddit identity at all.

So that rule protects direct harm from being done on users of Reddit.


"Outing" people leads directly to harassment

Agreed. But so does 'trying to take photos of a women's secondary sexual organs without her knowledge or consent' (creepshots). So shouldn't that be banned as well?


But so does 'trying to take photos of a women's secondary sexual organs without her knowledge or consent' (creepshots).

Does it? If the person in question never visited the sub-reddit in question, would they even know the photo existed?


We know. For god's sake, of course we know. What do you think, that we are blind? That every stalker has an expensive long-range camera and magical cammo where we can't see him? That you visit one Reddit, but we visit another Reddit? Or that we visit the same Reddit but just can't make the connection that pictures that happen to other girls can happen to us? Do you also think that it's ok to have sex with a girl who's drunk and passed out as long as you clean up afterwards?


Do you also think that it's ok to have sex with a girl who's drunk and passed out as long as you clean up afterwards?

You say that like it's a bad thing.


Someone visits, recognizes the person, sends the photo to friends, and soon it is circulating in the peer group of the victim, and they are being made the butt of jokes and being harassed.


And that theoretical harassment will pale in comparison to what results when someone tied to something controversial is outed on reddit. It's not really comparable.


1. It's not theoretical that people get bullied and harassed for photos of them found online.

2. Violentacrez is being harassed for unnecessary acts he CHOOSE to do (violating people's privacy). His victims did NOT choose to be violeted by him. He forced himself upon him. You are right that it is not comparable.

3. Violentacrez is an adult. He can change his name and move away for a fresh start, or obtain a firearm for protection. His young victims often will not have neither of those options.


I'm talking about the rule against doxxing in general and why it is necessary. You are are picking a specific person and arguing that the rule shouldn't apply in this case. But that's not how rules like this work and you are taking a shallow view of the issue.


> The usage of that freedom of speech is a personal responsibility. Reddit nor any other organization can be held responsible for the consequences of using that freedom of speech in ways that others may find objectionable or questionable.

The issue here is not that others are finding freedom of speech objectionable. Rather, Reddit as a privately run website has created a system in which people committing (legal) violations of people's privacy and safety can find an outlet to encourage and promote those behaviors and actions. Creating a space for people who are acting unethically while profiting from user traffic and advertising is hugely unethical and Reddit staff should rightly be called out on it.

Reddit as a whole promotes the viewpoints of the most privileged, which is why spaces like creepshots and jailbait found a home on Reddit in the first place. The flaws and pain that Reddit causes should be identified and proclaimed loudly such that other people can see just what Reddit is (hint: it's not a happy land of free speech and community).


"Creating a space for people who are acting unethically..."

But where is the line? Is /r/atheism a space for acting unethically because they know certain people will be deeply offended? /r/trees for advocating, even glorifying, an illegal activity?


Being an atheist or smoking weed is your own personal choice, stalking women so you can take suggestive pictures of them so that a community of fellow stalkers can oogle is a violation of another person's integrity. If you are suggesting that kind of behavior is equivalent to what is going on in r/atheism or r/trees, you might want to reexamine your views on stalking and sexism against women.


/r/trees and /r/athiesm might not evoke the same rancor in you as /r/CreepyShots but I am sure it does to somebody.

So, while I don't personally think they are equivalent on an offensiveness scale (I personally don't find /r/trees or /r/atheism offensive at all), somebody might. Should reddit censor those subreddits too? Maybe they should allow people to take a vote on controversial subreddits every week and remove the ones that don't make the cut? I don't know.

I am not defending CreepyShots. I am trying to start a conversation that might lead to some answers that I simply don't have. How do we defend open expression of ideas while censoring things? Is it possible? How offensive does something have to be to reach the censorship threshold? Is there a better test (e.g. legality (doh! /r/trees) or potential danger to others (doh! /r/athiesm)?) Can we let the mob decide on a periodic basis?

I know how I personally deal with it. I just don't subscribe to those subreddits.


I'm sure that the atheism and tress subreddits are offensive to somebody, but offensiveness of speech isn't the issue here. Also, I'm not advocating for community votes on banning subreddits, I'm merely pointing out that the site operators of Reddit are acting in a very unethical way.

> I am not defending CreepyShots. I am trying to start a conversation that might lead to some answers that I simply don't have. How do we defend open expression of ideas while censoring things?

Creepshots isn't just about ideas, it was a community which promoted and encouraged actual, physical acts that violated the privacy and safety of others. Again, this isn't just about speech, Reddit created a space that endorsed and promoted what those assholes in creepshots were doing all while the owners of Reddit profited and did nothing to keep the overall site safe for those targeted by users of creepshots. Again, they are not obligated to do so, but they should sure as hell be called out on it and feel the consequences of that.

> I know how I personally deal with it. I just don't subscribe to those subreddits.

I'm sure many of the women that ended up in pictures on creepshots didn't subscribe to it, but that doesn't help them when they have been violated or when those photos are used by some weirdo to target that person for more of the same treatment. Saying "just ignore it" is the kind of derailment that perpetuates sexism and racism, hence why you are de facto supporting creepshots.


> Creepshots isn't just about ideas, it was a community which promoted and encouraged actual, physical acts that violated the privacy and safety of others.

This is very solid argument and could make for a very good test.

"Could this subreddit reasonably pose a direct physical danger to someone without their consent?"

The 'without their consent' avoids arguments against home chemistry subreddits and things like that.

"Is this subreddit at least partially about the expression of some idea?"

If the answer is in the affirmative, the first test might have to be re visited. For example, a subreddit dedicated to the overthrow of a government might strictly fail the first test but the crux of the subreddit might be the exchange of ideas on that topic.

I can get behind the removal of subreddits based on these questions.


Why is it axiomatic that the protection of freedom of speech is always a good thing? It is in the American constitution, sure, but how many others have it? Is it really a good idea? Do we not also have to protect weaker members of our society from charlatans and manipulators?

Just saying.


> It is in the American constitution, sure, but how many others have it?

FYI, it's in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in most countries legislative corpus.

A better way to frame the question would be "what is the speech that is free", which is much more nuanced and interesting (e.g. is hate speech ok? religious blasphemy? stuff putting personal or national security at risk? Gossip? Holocaust denial? Lese majeste?).

But, in every case I can think of, freedom of speech is a right except for cases explicitly forbidden by some law.

So if reddit's defense is "we permit everything unless it's illegal" the case would be the same in most democratic countries and some non democratic ones, just shifting whhere the legal bar is set.

For the curious:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech_by_country


Why? Because there's basically no-one that can be trusted to decide which kinds of speech can be outlawed. In particular, I'm deeply familiar with the main group that's trying to get /r/CreepShots shut down and their views on how speech should be cracked down on, and they're pretty much identical to the ones that lead to the BoingBoing fiasco described here: http://www.popehat.com/2012/10/09/frankly-i-dont-care-how-du... In fact, their main subreddit at r/ShitRedditSays has a policy of doing this to anyone that points out when posts are outright lying through their teeth to get people riled up.


>Why is it axiomatic that the protection of freedom of speech is always a good thing?

Why are you making that assumption? Nothing was said about the goodness of it. The fact was simply stated that reddit considers it important, so they uphold it. You don't have to agree with reddit, nobody is saying everyone has to uphold free speech everywhere.


Exactly, as long ad it's legal, everything should go. Imagine HN banning posts about some topic because it rubs the majority's sensibility the wrong way. Without freedom of speech the Internet as we know it wouldn't exist. That's far more important than sheltering someone from what they may find offensive or objectionable.


as long ad it's legal, everything should go

That is not how Reddit works. There is some entirely legal things you could print in the USA that are against Reddit's rules. They do not allow publishing of personal information. They have already said "This is legal speech, but we don't want it here"


>They do not allow publishing of personal information.

Because it can directly kill the community off - it's a self preservation measure.


Maybe that's the point? After all, isn't the response to "someone is publishing material I disagree with" usually "well thanks to free speech rights, you can disagree with them publicly, and if you have a good point, people will agree with you"?

Do creepy, sexually harassing people deserve to be free of the consequences of their free speech? No. Free speech means the government can't ban it, it doesn't mean you are immune to the social consequences.

If free speech protects you when you post sexy photos of minors, then surely it should protect the free speech of someone who names you.


>..then surely it should protect the free speech of someone who names you.

There is another good reason for a sitewide ban on personal info, that being that if the internet is good at one thing, it's generating outrage. Outrage + Large amount of anonymous people = witch hunts. And I don't care if the guy's a serial rapist (which he isn't, not that you could tell with the acid-dipped keyboards in play) witch hunts are never a good thing. Accusations are thrown and innocent people's lives are impacted based on the flimsiest of evidence sometimes. Best to ban that outright and let people organize their raids elsewhere.

I also assume it would put them (the site owners) on shaky legal ground.

Reddit bans four things that I know of. Personal info, illegal pictures of minors, exploits targeting the users, and spam. There are very good justifications for every one of those.


I agree that witch hunts are bad, but so is the creepshot/jailbait stuff. Another thing the internet is good at is niche niche sexual interests, producing, distributing and promoting these sexual interests. This can be good (how many LGBT people have found out they aren't alone thanks to the internet), and bad (child porn). Should we not tackle the other things that the internet is bad as well?


I don't get what your concept of "be held responsible" means:

If the local KKK chapter -- a completely legal entity and one that enjoys the protection of free speech -- holds happy hour at my bar, I can either let them stay or kick them out. Let's say I let them stay, as long as they pay for their beers and not cause any ruckus. Understandably, the non-KKK part of my clientele may feel uncomfortable.

If the rest of the community decides to boycott my bar, are you saying that they, not I, am at a fault in regards to principles of freedom? The financial consequences of a boycott that my bar incurred is what I would consider, "being held responsible."


Unlike Nike with its Armstrong advertising, Reddit exerts very little control over subreddits. That's by choice and by design. Reddit basically tries to keep itself from getting sued, and leaves the rest of the community rule-making to subreddit mods.

Why is that so hard for people? People want to make reddit responsible for everything that happens there. But the users are the ones who are actually doing the posting.

Let's recognize the truth: that those users are the relevant moral agents when it comes to their posts, not reddit. Reddit's not responsible for violentacrez' fate any more than it was responsible for his posts.


I open a nightclub. People drink. They fight. They hurt themselves. Do I get to shrug that I exert very little control over what people do in my nightclub?

It's my choice whether I exert control or not. It's Reddit's choice not to exert control, and of course they're responsible for the consequences of their non-control.

To my mind, they took the money. taking the money and then saying they're not responsible for his fate is not the moral high ground. It may be pragamatic, it may be just business, but it's hardly laudable.


Analogies being what they are, let's make this one a little more precise. Reddit's not a nightclub, it's a nightclub factory, automating the process of creating a nightclub for anyone who wants to open one. Allowing for variation in how those clubs are run is a big part of the point--to explore the nightclub possibility space.

Unlike a real-world nightclub, individual subreddits are separated. In a real-world nightclub, you're automatically exposed to everyone else there, since you're sharing the same physical space. On reddit, you have to purposely enter a subbreddit (aside from the default ones, the curation of which is something I would agree is the responsibility of reddit-central).

> It's Reddit's choice not to exert control, and of course they're responsible for the consequences of their non-control.

They're responsible for the consequences of their non-control? In my book, control and responsibility go together.

To what extent (if any) do you believe that reddit users are responsible for their own posts?

Is the president of the USA responsible for your actions? Why or why not?


Without arguing with you, I do want to point out that "responsibility" is not a zero-sum game. If you make an ill-advised lane change in your car, but I am not constantly observing cars around me an strike you, we both have some responsibility, and the fact that you are 100% responsible for making safe lane changes doesn't mean that I'm not a little responsible, say 20%, for failing to predict your action. And the fact that I'm 20% responsible doesn't lower your responsibility to 80%.

So I'm not arguing with your basic feelings about personal responsibility, but at the same time, I'm not granting that if someone is responsible for their actions, it's a given that nobody else is responsible for the consequences.


I don't understand the lane-changing example.

When something bad happens, we can apportion responsibility for it. Sometimes one party is fully responsible for the bad thing. But other times, some other party is partly responsible, which must mean that the first party is not fully responsible.

If you're going to argue that party B is 20% responsible for a bad thing, then party A is at most 80% responsible. Party A can still be 100% wrong (they shouldn't have changed lane) but they're not 100% responsible.


We disagree on this fundamental idea. You and I talk, we agree to pick a random YC user, hunt him down, and pie him at a conference.

We are both 100% wrong and responsible. We each get the maximum sentence for assault.

We enlist the assistance of a friend to drive for us. we don't tell him what we're up to, but it's clear that the activity will be nefarious. he chooses not to call the cops, and he gets a lesser sentence.

He's less responsible, but his being less responsible doesn't reduce our responsibility, just as the two of us conspiring doesn't reduce responsibility to one half on account of the fact that either one of us could have called it off and just eaten the pies for dessert.


That's the difference between criminal and civil liability.

For criminal liability, it is exactly how you describe. Each actor is individually responsible for their actions, the actions of others don't reduce this.

However, for civil liability, there's an apportionment of damages based on a share of responsibility. Say the random YC user sued you, the other poster, and your friend. First, the damages against him would be quantified. This is based on the impact to him, not any moral judgment on your actions. Then, a jury would decide how much of the blame each of you was responsible for, and your liability would be that percentage of the overall damages.


Civil liability works that way because there is fixed pool of "damages" to apportion, so they're working out out how to split the payment. "Responsibility" in a moral sense is like criminal liability, there is no fixed pool to apportion.


>I open a nightclub. People drink. They fight. They hurt themselves. Do I get to shrug that I exert very little control over what people do in my nightclub?

Don't you? If they're hurting your other customers that's your responsibility. But if someone gets into a fight in your nightclub and gets fired from his job because if it, I think you have every right to shrug and walk away.

>To my mind, they took the money. taking the money and then saying they're not responsible for his fate is not the moral high ground. It may be pragamatic, it may be just business, but it's hardly laudable.

I don't know; to my mind they didn't so much take the fruits of his labour like an employee (as Nike essentially did with Armstrong) as sell him a service; he was their customer as much as anything else. To my mind that puts Reddit in the same camp as the printers who'll put whatever you want on a poster and not ask what you're doing with it, or the gun store who sells you a weapon no questions asked, or the casino or wine merchants who let you spend all your money (I don't mention the drug dealer since I believe Reddit blocks anything outright illegal). Some of those businesses are pretty scummy, but they're also some of freedom's greatest defenders.


I think you're correct, but part of the Reddit mission is to try to remain as hands-off as possible by giving the users the power to handle things. It's not always successful, and it's fair to say that they will eventually have to set tighter boundaries, but they aren't motivated entirely by convenience.


Compare reddit to a webhost, and this debate is actually similar to the one we had 10-15 years ago.

Someone makes a website dedicated to hosting creepy but legal photos. Is the webhost, even though it makes (shudder) money from hosting the material, responsible for it, or for what consequences the author might face for publishing it? I'm pretty sure that debate ended with a pretty resounding no last time around, and I'm not sure why reddit is much different.


Should megaupload delete all the illegal content on their site? If one of the uploaders gets outed as someone from RIAA and looses their job, should they give them jobs too?


The author is taking as a given that VA was already discussing a job with reddit before the controversy. I don't know the scoop on that, but it's a key difference from your example.


How much money did Reddit make off of VA's subreddits?


Why is that so hard for people?

Because look at the result. Sexual photos of underage girls. Taking photos of up women's skirts without their permission or knowledge. Something is wrong here.


Hey Reg.

There are other options available to them. The major problem that I have with Reddit at the moment is the idea that somehow Adrien Chen's behavior was more egregious than Michael Brutsch.

Brutsch is living by the sword and dying by the sword. Reddit has to at some point contend with the fact that being internet famous means that you are actually famous (or infamous as the case may be).

There are consequences to fame and infamy, and Reddit can't claim that it does awesome things lifting people up, and collecting for charities, without acknowledging that anti-social behaviors will also have consequences.

There is a place for anonymous free speech. And the more notoriety one gains, the harder it is to protect anonymity, and, justly i think, the harder it should be to make the case that one should remain anonymous.

With great power comes great responsibility. (this comment may sound like a platitude coming at the end of what i've written. It's not, and if anyone wants to discuss it i'd be happy to furnish examples.)


I am not an expert on morality and ethics, unless by virtue of experience gained from living through the consequences and self-guilt from the immoral an unethical choices I've made myself in the past half-century.

...which is a way of saying, I'm sure you're right that there are several other choices Reddit can make, some of which it may be making behind closed doors...


So, you'd like Reddit to suffer from self-guilt as well? ;)

I think that they can champion free speech at the same time recognizing that free speech and notoriety have consequences. Doxxing is a problem, but a lack of accountability is also an issue. If Reddit wants to consider itself akin to a nation state (which its CEO has asserted), the question of accountability is a very real and very material one.

That I think is the real crux of the issue, not whether or not they stand behind Michael Brutsch's odious behavior (to be more specific. They can stand behind him or not, that's not the important problem. Brutsch is just one man. What about all of the other future Brutsches?).


I think you're conflating Reddit users/mods with Reddit staff. Raganwald's rant was clearly about Reddit staff, so talking about Reddit's users' behaviors distracts a bit.


Nope. Reddit staff has been decrying Gawker's doxxing just as much as the mods have.

Reddit staff have also been intentionally hands off of controversial subreddits. Those are choices they have made, and they have defended their mods and the culture that they're fostering. I agree with Reg that Reddit is currently behaving inconsistently, but I don't entirely agree with Reg's two prescriptions to address the inconsistency.


Is it possible to stop calling it 'doxxing'? It's revealing personal information in public that's the issue here. Sometimes that's justified, sometimes it's not.


Doxxing is a word with a precise definition that allows writers to be more concise. It is useful and it describes what happened.


You say that, but after reading half of this HN discussion, after being a Redditor for many years, after consulting two dictionaries, and after googling "doxx", I still have absolutely no idea what that "precise definition" is. In fact, I have no idea what the word is supposed to mean at all, other than from context.


The first Google result for me is Urban Dictionary, which has good definitions for it.


If only it were so simple. 'Doxxing' has some pretty obvious connotations that a more precise (if also a bit more verbose) description of what happened does not have. It has also first and more frequently been used in certain contexts (e.g. users of some website searching for and revealing personal information about other users of that website) while not in others (e.g. investigative journalists revealing personal information about people in their stories), so it doesn’t really translate well if applied everywhere.

Just to make that clear, I think Gawker was wrong in revealing personal information, but I think that’s more a general disagreement with journalistic ethics and culture in the USA. There personal information is in general much more often and frequently revealed than where I come from (Germany).


Perhaps I should have used scare quotes.

I use the term because Reddit uses the term, and my intent was to characterize their feelings on the subject. I don't personally think that Gawker actually did maliciously leak ViolentAcrez's personal information. I think that they were reporting legitimately on someone at the center of a controversy who has chosen to put himself there.


Reddit is a bastion of some fairly horrible groups. Blatant racism on auto joined communities, sexism as the default, exploitation of women as often as possible. /r/Jailbait was over the line of sexualising children. But /r/creepshots not being immediately banned by the admins frankly scared me. Reddit will host a community that encourages people to stalk women and photograph them for personal gratification.


I think it would go without saying on HN, but with all the focus on the negative at Reddit lately, the positive gets lost. Just like there is some horrible stuff on reddit, there is some really amazing places. /r/askscience comes to mind immediately. or /r/suicidewatch or /r/randomactsofpizza. A very long list of very good things are hosted on reddit, and I think it's important to keep that in mind. The presence of these things does not negate the horrible things. Like most things in life, the goodness or badness of something is more nuanced than a simple yes or no.


It is not important to keep those things in mind. Not in the slightest.

All the free pizzas in the world don't make up for the fact the admins knowingly provide hosting for a community which encourages men to follow women around in public trying to take pictures up their skirts or down their blouses.


There are upskirt videos on youtube as well. I remember people trading them on AOL chatrooms, random popular forums, and Usenet before that.

The only way you can stop it is by censoring the Internet, thus human thought. That's going to prove unpopular no matter where you fall politically, but especially bodes unwell here.


> The only way you can stop it is by censoring the Internet, thus human thought.

Sneaking pictures of people's bodies isn't about human thought, but it is a part of institutional sexism.


>I remember people trading [upskirts] on . . . Usenet before that.

Not arguing with you, just curious. What year was this approximately? And which group?


I don't think there was a dedicated one then (at least I never took time to look for them when I was a teen, more focused on whatever piqued my interest at that point) but you could find people requesting and filling requests for them throughout alt.binaries.pictures.erotica and associated subgroups. My teens were mid-late 90s.

I just googled and see there is an a.b.p.e.upskirts one now, but I don't know when that was created. Could've been there all the while.


The issue isn't that communities can form on Reddit, but rather that the staff of Reddit welcome the creation of communities that actively perpetuate extremely harmful behavior. Ultimately the Reddit staff is free to run their site as they see fit, but the larger community of the Internet is rightly quite pissed about the fact that Reddit is supporting people who are actively violating others.


So where should the line be?

Should the people advocating for legalization of marijuana lose their community? Should /r/atheism be silenced for being offensive? Should MensRights be removed? Should MyLittlePony be banned for being vaguely creepy?

I don't agree in the slightest with the CreepShots subreddit and what it stands for but blatantly offensive subreddits might be doing a service as lightning rods for censorship advocates. If those firewalls fall we may find ourselves fighting for subreddits that might actually have some value even if some people don't agree with the views that are bred there.


I know I responded to you elsewhere in another thread, but you said something here that wasn't said there, so I want to speak to just that:

> I don't agree in the slightest with the CreepShots subreddit and what it stands for but blatantly offensive subreddits might be doing a service as lightning rods for censorship advocates.

This issue isn't about censorship, even though there are always those folks calling for censorship when stories like these break. The highly offensive subreddit communities that perpetuate racism and sexism are not helping anyone, but are instead creating a space that encourages continued racism and sexism, esp. physical actions like stalking that are directly harmful to people. These subreddits do not create a stronger community or provide some kind of example of how Reddit can or should be. That the Reddit staff continues to condone those subreddits while profiting off of that user traffic is the worst kind of behavior the owners of a site can take.


You should probably know that most of the groups clavalle named - in particular, MensRights, /r/atheism, and probably MyLittlePony - are ones that the people behind the current campaign against Creepshots have specifically said they want to see banned next. (And the targetting of MensRights isn't specific to that community either. From what I can tell, any community that actually considers forcing unconsenting men to have sex to be a form of rape has the same problem.)


"highly offensive subreddit communities that perpetuate racism and sexism are not helping anyone"

I disagree. They have helped me. How? I live in a very nice bubble, for the most part. In many ways, these issues don't exist in my day-to-day life. It is valuable to me to see that there are still assholes in the world. Granted, I know this on a very abstract level, but sometimes it is good to get smacked by the reality of a situation. It enhances my empathy and keeps me from the easy path of dismissal. This is also the reason, to a lesser degree, that I visit news sites that I know I will disagree with and I occasionally get in pointless internet arguments with their die-hard fans. Is that enough to keep them from censorship? Probably not, but there is /some/ value there.


Most real world problems exist on gradients. Reddit errs on the side of free speech. That's a tough place to be, everything exists on a continuum and being the person to draw stark lines is hard.

I think people are being a bit rough on the reddit crew, the decisions they have to make aren't clear or obvious.

FWIW, I'm fully on the side of banning reddits like creepshots and jailbait, but I understand that making those decisions takes time and deliberation, and that sometimes you make the wrong call.


>I think people are being a bit rough on the reddit crew, the decisions they have to make aren't clear or obvious.

They used to be, and that's one of the things that made the community great. The decision was always this: If it's illegal or spam, it's not allowed. If it's not illegal or spam, it's allowed.

That was a refreshingly transparent way to run a community, and had they stuck to that principle, their decisions would have continued to be simple and obvious. But as soon as they started to feel some media backlash, they turned their back on the idea of transparency and instead opened Pandora's Box of vague policies and case-by-case judgment calls.

I sympathize with those who say that r/jailbait was "over the line", but reddit's decision to ban it was the Wrong Call.


Agree, and I'm disappointed that the conversation on HN is still in terms of “free speech”. Do people know what kind of content Violentacrez posted? According to Zeynep Tufekci’s account:

    Children focused “jailbait” forums typically
    include photos of minors on a beach in splashing around
    in bathing suits, a youngster practicing gymnastics,
    students in school with the picture taken from a
    low-angle, from-the-behind etc. and are peppered with
    comments about genitals, looks and rape. The more
    adult-oriented “creepshot” forum typically include
    non-consensual “upskirt” photos of women’s crotches,
    breasts, as well private photographs that were shared
    with boyfriends, exes, being circulated for commentary
    and leering.
I never visited the communities in question, so if that summary is materially inaccurate, please correct.

If that is accurate, I don’t see how anyone could think the actions of taking such photos, sharing them publicly and encouraging more to be taken, are victimless actions, or are even remotely defensible under the banner of “free speech”. Intimidating and harassing others and sharing recognizable photos without their consent is not “free speech”.

If Reddit wanted to take the moral high ground they would need to realize that while certain content may technically be legal, it should not be encouraged and welcomed by their community.

More in this great (but long) article by Zeynep Tufekci, which I've quoted above: http://technosociology.org/?p=1135


I'm not sure you're bringing in the full picture. Reddit is a media community, not a media outlet. The parent company is a bastion of an authentic (however defined) self-policed system; to a limit, that includes the good and the bad. You might point fingers at the community, but you're talking about a lot of people, so you'll have to make inaccurate generalizations.

I think Raganwald's points are well taken because they relate to the Reddit company's mission as a provider of free-speech, not as a provider of things you find distasteful.


> Blatant racism on auto joined communities,

I have never seen this on reddit, ever, unless you don't understand sarcasm or can't take a joke.

> sexism as the default,

Really? That's funny, because I'm pretty sure there's a preponderance of Internet White Knights on reddit, and I've never seen sexism that went ignored.

> exploitation of women as often as possible.

That's a gross hyperbole. I don't see how reddit 'exploits' women in any way.

> /r/Jailbait was over the line of sexualising children.

/r/jailbait was sexualizing young adults, many of whom were be perfectly legal in their given jurisdiction, many of whom were going out of their way to be sexualized. The moderation of /r/jailbait was exceedingly strict in preventing the sexualization of children.


This comment is an excellent summary of my problems with reddit. I spend way, way more time than I should arguing with people who think that "it's just a joke" is a defense of anything. Or with people who treat the pointing out of sexism as worse than sexism. If you don't think /r/CreepShots was exploitative of women, we have very different opinions on this subject. And finally, you defend /r/jailbait, going as far as to blame the people in the photos.

I hope people upvote you just because you provided such a concise summary of every bad argument used to defend reddit.


"It's just a joke" is a defense of everything. It's a reflection on the human condition - it's how intelligent people cope with the horrors of humanity.

Or do you think we should still be mourning six million Jews? Slavery? Cancer? AIDS? Terrorism?

We're all going to die some day. We're all going to go through some horrible shit before we die. At least some of us can laugh about it.

I'd never been to /r/creepshots, and I'm not blaming anyone with regards to /r/jailbait - I don't know what blame there is to place.


/r/videos and /r/funny often have blatantly racist submissions or posts. Basically, someone will find an example of bad behavior on worldstarhiphop and then a bandwagon will attribute the behavior to race. It's hard to miss.


> /r/jailbait was sexualizing young adults, many of whom were be perfectly legal in their given jurisdiction, many of whom were going out of their way to be sexualized.

There were many pictures in /r/jailbait well below 16, which is the lowest common age of consent in the US (which is where most of the photos seemed to be from). That's far from "young adult".


Frankly, i'm exactly on the other side with this issue. I'm appalled and, if not scared, at least apprehensive, that Reddit throws freedom of speech under the bus at the sight of trouble. I understand that, from a business point of view, it's the logical thing to do, but i find it morally problematic.

To quote Noam Chomsky:

> Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're really in favor of free speech, then you're in favor of freedom of speech for precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you're not in favor of free speech.


I don't quite agree with your analogy. If Reddit closed down /r/trees, that would be censorship of people with non-mainstream opinions. There is no narrowing of discourse in society if creepshots gets shut down.

There are free speech issues at play here, but I think they have more to do with balancing people's need for privacy versus the right of people to make and share media of things that happen in public.

(That said, a lot of images in those communities are just stolen from other people's Facebook streams anyway, so it's also an issue of privacy.)


If there are things that harm people, they should get banned.

Draw a clear line. But be careful where you draw the line. In the 50s, a reddit about interracial marriage might have been considered harmful and in some places illegal.

Wherever you draw it, remember the right is going to use it to say any subreddit about gays is actually about pedophiles.

And mob justice against people who violate your social norms goes both ways. In many countries that serves to further victimize victims of oppression, e.g. http://feministing.com/2012/10/18/well-you-did-dare-to-speak...


"But be careful where you draw the line. In the 50s, a reddit about interracial marriage might have been considered harmful and in some places illegal."

And that's the point. What is and isn't acceptable is fluid and subjective. Reddit says "If it's not illegal, it's OK. Talk to your lawmaker if you don't like it." Which is the same stance search engines take as well.

Reddit doesn't have to be, and I don't think should be, an arbiter of legality, let alone taste. People are complaining at the wrong people, just because they're closest.


Thank you. Really wishing there were more women actively commenting in these threads as they're the ones actually affected by these types of behaviors. It's easy to say "Things are fine, leave it alone" when you're not the ones being targeted and victimized.


Firstly, it's not that "Reddit is a bastion of some fairly horrible groups", but that humanity happens to contain some fairly horrible groups. Reddit is just software. The same groups would otherwise use vBulletin, Usenet, or whatever other forum software to band together. You're conveniently forgetting that the same software + website are host to /r/fitness, /r/mensrights, /r/GetMotivated, and other very positive groups.

Basically, reddit is the early-21st century's Usenet. That's all there is to it.

Why not generalize a bit further and say, "The Internet is a bastion of some fairly horrible groups"?


Thats where the question of morality enters. Vbulletin could choose not to sell their software to racist hate groups, the same way a newspaper chooses not to publish a racist screed in their editorial section, the same way a hosting company can choose not to host pro-anorexia sites.

Reddit could choose not to allow the horrible side of humanity to use their platform. Even tumblr has standards. There will always be awful parts of human nature, but through our moral choices we minimize or promote them.


I, personally, can't see a big difference betweent creepshots and the abundance of upskirt/downbluse paparazzi photos that tons of media outlets are happy to show.


One is Lindsay Lohan and one is your wife.


Lindsay Lohan isn't a person? She doesn't deserve any respect for her privacy or her feelings? Publishing pictures of her crotch is totally cool because she's (in)famous, but publishing pictures of some random woman fully clothed standing in line at the grocery store is horrible and abusive? I fail to see any logical way that anyone can be against one and not the other.


Not at all what I'm saying, but one of them went into a profession where publicity was the name of the game and the other is just trying to buy groceries with your kids. The paparazzi has been harassing celebrities for decades; it isn't right but it isn't new, and people look down on the people those photographers and often grief them. Cyberbullies taking pictures with their phones behind someone's back for fake internet points that give them some sort of credence in their community is just flat-out disgusting.


Cyberbullies? Are we playing Buzzword Bullshit Bingo now?

And just because it's been done for decades doesn't make it right. Remember, this whole thing is about morals, not about law.


>and people look down on the people those photographers and often grief them

And in this case, the people publishing those photos (gawker) are hypocritically bashing other people for publishing much less invasive photos (reddit). So the idea that the invasion of celebrities privacy is looked down on already seems a bit unrealistic.

>Cyberbullies taking pictures with their phones behind someone's back for fake internet points that give them some sort of credence in their community is just flat-out disgusting.

You just keep stating your opinion as if it were a logical answer to the question. I understand that you feel that way. I am not asking what you feel. I am asking how gawker's photos are less bad than creepshots. I don't think taking pictures of fully clothed people in public areas is disgusting, so expecting me to suddenly just take your word for it is pretty silly.


Gawker has nothing to do with this at the core of the issue; these subreddits exist with or without them. They've been a burden to users who see them as the embarrassing drunk uncle and the reason why Reddit isn't taken more seriously. Your community is only as good as you shape it to be, and if you want to boast that you're the front page of the internet, you are expected to sustain worthwhile content that isn't overrun by village idiots who end up pushing the key contributors away.

Having standards isn't throwing freedom out the window. Regardless of whether or not Reddit's stance is to be as neutral as possible, those involved with the growth and monetization of the site need to address this before someone else does if they want the site to continue to thrive.


> you are expected to sustain worthwhile content that isn't overrun by village idiots who end up pushing the key contributors away.

That's why there are subreddits.


Yes, gawker does have something to do with it. You said it is ok for them to post pictures of celebrity crotches, and it is horrible and disgusting for other people to post pictures of random people just standing around fully clothed in public, where tons of people can see them already. You were asked for clarification as to why you feel one is ok and the other isn't, and you just said "one is Lindsay Lohan". You still haven't explained why you think one is ok and the other is not, and your posts continue to try to drag things further and further from that question.


Didn't actually say that. Gawker is and has been a terrible company for as long as I can remember. But their actions have nothing to do with these ongoing issues that keep cropping up with Reddit. If they didn't do the witchhunt, someone else would have.


Again, you have ignored the question. What makes posting pictures of Lindsay Lohan's crotch more acceptable than posting pictures of fully clothed women standing around in public?


The difference is that celebrities know that they will have to deal with paparazzi as part of being a voluntary and willing participant in the public spotlight.

The random woman on the street does not voluntarily choose to have a picture of her posted all over the internet for perverts to ogle.

Note that this difference is important legally -- beating up a paparazzi is a crime, but beating up a pervert taking creepshots of your wife/daughter is either not a crime or would not be realistically prosecutable.


Raganwald, I normally like what you write, but bringing up Lance is nonsensical.

Everyone knows that cycling's been big on doping for years. It can hardly even be called cheating, it's tacitly acknowledged that everyone's on drugs. It's been well established that all of Lance's competitors were doping as well. When your choices are take drugs, or don't compete, is it really cheating?

The real problem in cycling is the moral outrage around doping. Doping isn't cheating, it's the way the game is played. If you want to compete, that's the price of admission.

Nike's a giant publicly traded corporation with an obligation to their shareholders. Their main product is their brand (which is used to sell goods). They did what they needed to do to protect their brand. As far as pretending that they didn't know about Lance, I consider that a white lie. Everyone has known that Lance doped for years. Nike feigning ignorance is a fiction needed to prevent retaliation from moralists with their heads in the sand, a constituency that sadly cannot be ignored.


Doping in cycling is cheating. Not everyone does (or did) it--see Christophe Bassons [1] as the canonical example--and in any case the most sophisticated doping regimens were only available to a few of the best-financed riders and teams. Hardly a level playing field [2].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christophe_Bassons [2] http://inrng.com/2012/10/level-playing-field-doping-myth/


Both valid points. It's sad that someone like Bassons is at a disadvantage.

You're right doping doesn't level the playing field. However, for better or worse it's part of the playing field. Of course, nothing about pro sports is ever fair. Money matters even taking drugs out of the equation. It buys you better bikes, trainers, doctors, training facilities, etc.

As far as some people responding better to drugs, well sports are pretty heavily defined by our bodies. Responding well to drugs is analogous to responding well to training, it's an asset for an athlete to have in today's world.


> Doping isn't cheating, it's the way the game is played.

This argument bothers me, and it's one used by people who speed.

If all of the cyclists dope, then they have a separate game. They're not cheating at that separate game. They are, however, breaking the rules set out by the UCI (or whoever.)

Performance enhancing drugs are against the rules; using them is cheating. Similarly, speeding is against the law. That makes it illegal. The fact that hardly anyone abides by the rules doesn't mean the rules don't exist.

> If you want to compete, that's the price of admission.

Someone on /r/cycling mentioned a baseball player from the McGwire days. The player stood up and publicly said (paraphrasing) "Look, everyone is on steroids. If they want to be on steroids, fine. At least acknowledge that it's happening. The real problem, though, is the people who don't want to be on steroids. People who are cheating are forcing everyone else to take PEDs to keep up."

That's not okay.


Reddit (& supporters) like to point out how Reddit supports free speech etc. However reddit doesn't allow some speech that would be legal in USA, namely publishing personal details of reddit users (doxxing). They have already drawn a line and said "This is legal, but we don't want it here".

What about Gawker's free speech?

When people post creepshots (photos of people without their knowledge), we hear that "We can't ban them, because of free speech". When people post personal details of people who take creepshots, suddenly free speech doesn't apply anymore, and it's all about potential personal harm. What about potential personal harm with creepshots?


>What about potential personal harm with creepshots?

And what might that be? An upskirt picture absent any other context (a face, a name, a location, a timestamp) might as well be anonymous. I understand that the subject of that image might be rightly scandalized were they to find out, but if they don't?

Is someone really harmed by someone else getting off to an image of their body absent their knowledge of this?


Sure they are. They know its happening. They know its supported by the hosting organization.

Imagine we institutionalized it- we'll take pictures of random people, including maybe you, in the bathroom in as embarassing a way as possible, and distribute it only to people you don't know. Ha ha! What a riot! They get a good laugh at your expense, you know its happening but cant do anything about it. Feel safe and confident now?

Its morally reprehensible to violate someones privacy in this way. We all suffer when its enabled by anyone.


>Imagine we institutionalized it-

But we aren't, so this entire hypothetical is out on its arse. Let's deal with the reality instead of a reduction to the absurd.

>They know its happening. They know its supported by the hosting organization.

How? Honest curious question, how many people know these pictures have been taken and are up on some random internet site?


It is institutionalized, when there are groups on reddit or wherever that regularly shares and encourages creation - isn't that what the conversation was about? SO what is your comment about? Simple denial is not an argument.

And I'm guessing millions now know - how many is enough by your estimate?


>when there are groups on reddit or wherever that regularly shares and encourages creation

That doesn't qualify as institutionalized to me. The existence of /b/ doesn't equate to institutionalization of trolling.

>And I'm guessing millions now know - how many is enough by your estimate?

I was referring to the subjects of the images, not the people who post them.


...and I'm guessing those reading these threads may be in those pictures. I don't know how many; neither do you. It could be any of us.


The harm is that people have the right to privacy and to be free of sexual harassment. They have the right to be able to go to school and not have their teachers taking sexy photos of them (as happened to one creepshot poster).

I would have thought this is a non-controversial opinion. I'm suprised that people think it's OK to take sexy photos of under 18 girls without their knowledge and consenst, and post them on the internet and people can't see what's wrong with this?!


This is a devils advocate thread (if that wasn't painfully obvious at this point), so please don't think for a minute I'm somehow okay with pictures like these being taken and distributed. Somehow I also doubt this is a controversial stance :)


But they're not all anonymous, and it doesn't matter whether or not they are. I wrote the other day here about a girl that posted about her friend finding herself on there and how humiliating the whole ordeal was. One unfortunately-placed birthmark or tattoo could completely oust the person to her peers. It's absolutely violating, and who's to say the guy that did it to her won't do it again? Can you imagine the fear of wondering if every person you encounter is going to try to take an unwanted picture of you and your body to post to a bunch of people who don't respect women? It isn't innocent and it shouldn't be treated like it is.


> They’re talking about freedom of speech, but the message I read is that they’ll take the money if you want to use Reddit to say something controversial. But if there are consequences... You’re on your own.

Of course you're on your own. Reddit shouldn't be held responsible for what people say on it anymore than AT&T should be held responsible for what people say on the phone.


I know where your're going with this, but the phone is not a good analogy because AT&T's revenue is not commensurate with the popularity of what you say, and a phone call is private. Consider instead a satellite radio station that lets you host your own talk show and sells advertising on it without giving you a cut.


a phone call is private

Tell that to the government.


I'm a moderator of a couple subreddits, and I don't see a problem with how Reddit administrators reacted to the situation. Perhaps I am the minority but I believe that Reddit's hands-off approach is the only reason the community thrives.


I tried to be explicit in saying that I am not speaking to moderators about this. But Reddit has closed some of the subreddits, such as those that allegedly (I have never seen them) exploited underage persons. How about a cheque to charity for the approximate revenue they generated? It's a simple gesture.


Can anyone confirm that more than a negligible sum was earned on such subreddits?

Part of my problem with the post is the insinuation that reddit is a gross money hungry corporation when the reality seems quite different.


A token cheque to charity would satisfy me. I'm available for a photo op with the CEO where he shakes my hand and presents Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children with a cheque in the amount of $53.28 for all of the jailbait and creepshots ad revenue.

"We don't want the money, no matter how insignificant" would be a fine statement to make :-)


The FCC has a policy whereby they absolutely refuse to approve content before it airs, even if networks explicitly ask. This is not a legal requirement, since the FCC levies fines for content that does not meet "community standards", it is deference to the fundamental principles of free speech whereby they would have a de facto pre-approval board.

Both this post and the Gawker post bizarrely talk about free speech as though it is an excuse for bad behavior. Free speech is considered a social good in its own right. Furthermore, in the writings of the authors of the US Constitution, and in numerous Supreme Court decisions, they do not only talk about government being prohibited from silencing people, they talk about policies that are implicitly dangerous by virtue of cooling the public debate.

Defending the principles of free speech is a difficult challenge when it comes to defending unpleasant and despicable groups. I don't find it credible or reasonable to claim that Reddit protected violentacres because it made them money, when it so clearly tarnishes their brand, and makes it more difficult for people to forward links, or otherwise talk about why they enjoy the site.

The economics may be counter intuitive (much in the same way that Lance Armstrong hurts the Nike brand now as much as he may have ever benefited it), but Reddit is more responsive to the criticism of despised groups because of its commercial interests. Take a nonprofit, community access television channel like Manhattan Neighborhood Network—I swear that I saw a show on that channel that had to be entirely about some creeper who was filming women walking by his apartment window on the way to work.

This post, and others, are based on the presumption that caring about the principles of free speech, and that recognizing that often ugly but lively debate is important to a dynamic society, is the same as wanting to see depraved and perverse content. Do they think the ACLU secretly sympathetic to neo-nazi causes, too?

I find it especially troubling when it comes from journalists make the same presumption, and then clarify that they are implicitly more trustworthy (even if they've ever knocked on the door to someone's home with a camera crew) than someone misbehaving on a public site, or that that is even relevant, as though there are different classes of people when it comes to how much of a voice you are allowed.


"Hands-off" approach is not censoring every bad article on Violentacrez. Hands off is letting users determine what goes to the front page.


The article was censored because it broke the cardinal rule of Reddit: You don't post people's personal information. That restriction was also immediately rescinded, a poor choice if you ask me.


What? Freedom of speech does not mean "I have to pay you for the kind of speech you create."

There is no hypocrisy in saying "I don't support what you are saying, but I defend your right to say it."

Now, sure the money they made clouds matters a bit, but that money was content-neutral. They neither encouraged nor discouraged any particular content.


The characterization of Reddit as "trying to speak out of both sides of its mouth" is misplaced. There is nothing inconsistent about affirming someone's right to say something while acknowledging that the content of said speech is deplorable. In the US (and Reddit is US company), we have a long and extolled history of this exact behavior. Was the ACLU being inconsistent when they defended the rights of Nazis to demonstrate in Skokie, Illinois [1]?

Others here have rightly pointed out that Reddit is not government, and that they aren't obliged to allow all legal speech. However, in an age of increasing acceptance of voluntary censorship (walled gardens, etc) Reddit has chosen to take the principled position of allowing its users to self moderate its content, only intervening in cases of illegality.

If one thinks that creepshots-style content shouldn't be allowed (and there are certainly compelling arguments for this case), one should petition the government to classify it as illegal, not wrongly criticize Reddit for taking the consistent position that they have.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_Liberties_Union#...


>There is nothing inconsistent about affirming someone's right to say something while acknowledging that the content of said speech is deplorable.

Sorry, the SJ guardians live in a black and white world where you are with them or against them and being against creepshots AND against doxxing is completely impossible.


Pretty much: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/18/online-b...

(That article if anything understates how bad the problem is.)


I don't understand this article. Reddit doesn't like some of the stuff that takes place on their site, but overall they value the community's choices over their own likes or dislikes. There's nothing wrong with expressing your own opinion on these things but refusing to act on those opinions out of higher principles. In fact, I'd say that's rather ideal.

I flagged this article because IMO something this dumb doesn't belong on the front page.


Me, I support freedom of speech and decentralization. But one thing strikes me as odd: I keep hearing about this case on HN and other tech news sites, but I have yet to see an article about it on Reddit's own front page. I'm sure I missed discussion when the original article was published, but does Reddit not care about all these followup reports/opinions or is my homepage setting just weird?


Reddit globally banned links to the article, and may subreddits blocked all links to Gawker.

The global ban has been lifted, but many of the moderators of the most popular subreddits consider Violentacrez a mentor/friend, and the individual blocks remain in effect. In the end it doesn't matter because during the crucial window of relevance the article was blocked.


This seems like outrage looking for a victim.

Nike is a huge multinational business. I find the comparison to reddit silly.

Reddit, in its entire history, has erred on the side of free speech. That is noble, rational, and respectable.

Reddit preserved /r/jailbait for as long as possible because it was not illegal. Reddit is trying to be a platform and a vehicle for discussion, not a content moderator, and in that regard it's doing a good job.


Some people just don't understand the meaning of freedom. This post reminds me of religious types who demand that YouTube take down videos that they deem offensive.


Communities will be policed, one way or another. If an authority (like Reddit's administration) refuses to do it, then the community will do so itself, and likely in ways the authority, and perhaps even some community members, would rather not happen. This means the Reddit folks have a choice to make: they can police the userbase, or they can allow the community to do so, or they can ban one community policing measure after another until the community itself is no longer useful.

The first and second options have been successfully implemented, to varying degrees and sometimes with a measure of hybridization, in many communities. By refusing to punish miscreants but punishing those who would punish said miscreants, Reddit is currently on the third path, and that's not a practical place to be.


Both of the "moral high ground" actions the author suggests Reddit make are in fact punishments, presumably for the crime of allowing "despicable filth" to be "peddled" on their site. Reddit doing neither is actually quite rational. Although the author obviously does not find this morally satisfying, I am firmly on Reddit's side here. I really appreciate how hands-off they are.

I find this Adrian Chen figure, however, to be of bad character. I don't particularly like Mr Brutsch, but I like moral-hysteria witch hunts even less. Talk about misusing your privileged position in the media to play judge, jury and executioner to some misguided schmuck. Hope he gets signed up to a few dozen more of those mailing lists.


Why is this the story that's occupying the blogosphere's attention? While we're wrangling about this, the main stream media is talking about the doxxing of Amanda Todd's alleged bullier by Anonymous.


I can't speak about the Internet at large, but Reddit was a YC startup, and its growing pains are instructive for those who want to understand where their own startup dreams may lead, and the challenges of managing the unintended consequences of disrupting industries and/or society.


This is exactly right and I'm glad to see the topic covered by someone who's held in high esteem at HN, as it seems all the other discussions on this topic have been downmodded. Many online startups today are basing part of their growth on user-submitted work/content. Reddit is one of the few that have reached a critical mass such that the system is worth gaming, and now Reddit has to reconsider its strategy. This has happened to, oh, only about every other online community/startup that has reached a commercially-valuable mass of users, including Digg, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Myspace, etc. etc.


In the Amanda Todd story, the "bad guys" are Youtube, Facebook & memegenerator. I guess the big difference is that the first two have gone through these sorts of things before -- there are some new aspects of this for Reddit.

I think it would be interesting to compare the rules that Facebook uses to take down Pages vs the ones that are used to take down subreddits, but I don't think the Facebook rules are public. Facebook definitely took down some of the "good riddance Amanda Todd" pages, but I understand they are leaving some up that many find offensive.


I find it somewhat instructive that the reddit founders started a new business where they don't host user content and make revenue by getting their users off the site faster or with a higher level of satisfaction than competitors.


The simplest reason is that there is an identifiable person here. Brutsch is now a known individual.

Anonymous is still just a bunch of persons with no coherent membership, who may or may not be reachable. Until Anonymous goes after an alphabet agency again, there's really no point.

Literally anyone could be in Anonymous, simply by claiming the name.


I don't understand. Kody Maxson & Amanda Todd are known individuals too. I just listened to a half hour episode on the CBC's The Current that was very well done and brought up a lot of good discussion points about the nature of hactivism, vigilante justice, doxxing, the role of the police, the role of advertisers, Facebook & Youtube in censoring hateful comments, et cetera.


Raganwald: Even now, they speak out of both sides of their mouth, mumbling about free speech while disavowing approval of the choices this man made to make them money.

Voltaire (maybe): I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.


The overarching point is lost here: there is no anonymity on the Internet and you should treat each missive as if it is associated with your person.


Couldn't have said it better myself.




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